In this article, I’ll review the platform used in the Cisco On-Demand E-learning courses such as ICND1 v2.0, and ICND2 v2.0.
Cisco E-learning platform prerequisites
What you will need to learn in this course is a computer, a browser and an Internet connection. That’s all. You need to install nothing. It’s all in the web. That means you can access your learning environment from a PC, a smartphone, a tablet,…and have your learning environment accessible to you any time.
Navigating the Cisco On-Demand E-learning Platform
When you launch any Cisco on-demand E-learning course, you’ll find there are two main areas: the content area and the navigation area. The content area is where the course meat is. The navigation area contains the list of topics you will learn. There are also “Next” and “Back” shortcuts in the upper part of the content area.
I took the example of the Cisco ICND1 v2.0 course and I broke down the parts:
The content of each course is organized into sections. Each section contains:
- a scenario: this is to put you in the context. You are not learning just for fun. You are relating what you are learning to a real-world scenario.
- one or more lessons,
- a challenge.
Lessons are in the form of text, diagrams and video. For videos, you can play them faster or slower with the custom play speed button. It depends on how fast you absorb the concepts and whether you are learning the stuff for the first time:
At the end of lessons, there is a quiz that tests your level of comprehension, before proceeding to the next one.
You simply have to select your answer and click on Submit:
The response time of the E-learning modules is very fast. However, for the video tutorials, it depends on your Internet connection speed.
Ease of navigation
The navigation is intuitive. You have both the regular navigation sidebar, or the upper navigation menu. Even when you scroll down through the course, the upper navigation menus are persistent:
The bookmark feature is nice to have, especially to take side notes while studying. To make a bookmark, simply click on the Add Bookmark button during the course:
Click on the pencil to edit your bookmark:
Write your note, then click on Update:
Notes can be anything from a personal definition to a reminder.
Now, anytime you want to access your notes, click on the bookmark shortcut next to the sections button, and it will take you to the bookmarked page.
This is a concept very used in forums. But in the E-learning courses, a badge is a synonym for score.
At the end of each challenge you are assigned a badge. There are three possible types of badges (or medals):
- the Gold badge: if you crush all the challenge questions
- the Silver badge: if you have one wrong answer
- the Bronze badge: if you have two wrong answers.
These are mini exams. You have a limited amount of time to complete each challenge, which prepares you for the real exam day. It’s not enough to be able to succeed at answering questions. It’s important to answer them right and within time.
Here is the big part. There are many pre-cabled labs included in the E-learning courses. And I’m talking about real IOS images and real devices, not a simulation. Check it out:
Here is the topology used in the lab:
I first click on Initialize to prepare a device:
I choose router R1. The device boots up. And to my surprise, the clock and date are accurate (I’m in GMT+1 timezone):
Wait, there’s more.
I discovered that you can almost have all the IOS commands on these devices. What does this mean? it means you can run IOS commands other than those needed for the lab questions.
Here’s an example. I’m playing with the section “Improving The User Experience in The CLI”. I scrolled down to the lab portion. And I started proof testing:
Yes, the lab allows for other IOS commands and detects errors. But, what on Earth is Errdisable recovery interval doing in this course section? Am I not supposed to practice IOS shortcuts only?
Can you imagine this being possible? you can play with IOS commands freely on real hardware and not be limited to just the course commands!
Screwed something in the configuration and could not remember what you did? no problems, you can restart or re-initialize the device:
Let’s check if it really works. Remember that I played with the Errdisable recovery interval and set it to 30 seconds? Let’s do a “write mem” and re-initialize the device:
and let’s check back the value of the errdisable recovery interval:
Ok, what about the Restart Device option. Does it preserve the configuration? let’s see by changing the hostname and saving the configuration:
Yes it stored the configuration before the reload. This is simply awesome.
By the way, you can stretch/reduce the lab window with this button:
Search and Glossary
You can look up a term in the search field or even in the glossary. For example, type “dhcp” in the search field. The application will display a definition of DHCP, and a link to the Glossary:
When you click on view in Glossary, you’ll be redirected to the Glossary page. There, you’ll find the complete definition of DHCP, along with all the necessary keywords.
Another way to access the Glossary is by clicking on Utilities:
This is a cute utility that shows how you rank in the community for the last . You can compare your performance with that of other students.
Click on the Leaderboard button, then wait a couple of seconds for the leaderboard to load.
How to improve the Cisco On-Demand E-Learning platform
Here is, in my opinion, what could be improved in the On-demand platform, to make it “awesomer”:
- badges: it’s nice to have them. But why not convert them into points or even product discounts? That could encourage students to work harder, brag about their scores and purchase other products at a reduced price. Or, what if we could integrate the badges into Cisco Learning Network forums?
Cisco On-Demand E-Learning platform: Final words
I simply am impressed by the quality of the platform made by Cisco team. The interface is very intuitive. You can master it in a couple of minutes. At first, I was a bit skeptic. I had a previous experience with a computer-based training company that delivers Cisco training material in an interactive form (no need to do bad publicity here). However, it was boring and monotonous.
The Cisco On-Demand E-Learning however, integrates text documents, short video animations, quizzes and real-device labs. Practice with IOS commands is not limited to a subset, such as in simlets in Cisco exams. Here you are offered access to a lot of IOS commands on devices that only you can manipulate. There are no shared devices. You have complete access on the devices. You can change the configuration, restart, reload,… This is a great package.
I wish I had this platform back in the days when I entered the world of Cisco networking.
After all these tests, you can start anywhere you want. At the time of writing this article, there are 45 Cisco On-Demand E-Learning courses in Cisco Learning Network Store. Choose one of them below. Here I present some of them by topic: